By Njideka Eze
The Catholic Diocese of Enugu on Tuesday 23rd November celebrated a special funeral mass in honour of late Dr. Chike Akunyili the husband of Late Prof. Dora Akunyili, the former Director-general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)and a former Minister of Information and Communications.
Dr. Chike Ankunyili was gruesomely murdered by unknown gunmen on his way back to his base in Enugu after attending his late wife’s memorial lecture in Onitsha.
Described as ‘Priest’s Doctor’ by the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, Late Dr. Chike’s legacy was described as one that will stand tall and speak volume for many years to come.
The special mass in honour of the Seasoned Medical Doctor was held at his Parish of residence, Christ the King Parish, G.R.A Enugu. In his welcome remarks, the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Longinus Ikenna Ugonwa thanked his Lordship Callistus Onaga, His Lordship Most Rev. John Okoye, Priests, Religious and faithful who gathered in their numbers to pay their last respect to the fallen parishioner.
In an emotion laden homily, Rev. Fr. Cyriacus Okpalike said Dr. Chike Akunyilis death would have been more painful but for the sake of Christ. According to Fr. Okpalike “If you as a Christian have nothing for which you remember Christ, remember him for being a peacemaker”. Continuing, he said that Christ even though was a peacemaker became a common criminal who was not guilty, the same way Doctor Chike was butchered like a common criminal, a man who cured, rescued and cared for others was left to die in pains and in a pool of his own blood. People rather chose to make videos and pictures rather than help a dying man. He became just like Christ whom was messed up beyond recognition. Those people whom Christ healed, gave bread all couldn’t help him.
Fr. Cyriacus disclosed that Dr. Chike Akunyuli has two bullet wounds on his forehead. One he sustained during the Biafra war and the second which killed him, stressing that the Government and the security knows what happened to Dr. Chike.
Extolling the virtues of Dr. Chike, he said that even as a young man, at Akunyili Street Coal Camp, Enugu North LGA, Dr. Chike Father’s house became a house for seminarians and Priests. He was in love with Priests, Religious and seminarians. At Bigard Memorial seminary, Dr. Chike treated priests and seminarians for over 40years without taking a dime. Dr. Chike rose to the highest order of Knights of St John’s international. He was also a papal knight of St Sylvester. What is significant about St Sylvester was that he couldn’t attend the first ecumenical council because he was nursing the wounds of persecution, which could be likened to same wound that Dr. Chike died with .He thanked the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese for organizing this special mass for Dr. Chike. He encouraged his children whom he said have been united to keep up the good deeds of their parents.
In different tributes by the Parish Priest, Pastoral council of Christ the King Parish and College of Immaculate Conception , Dr Chike was described as a father, a brother, a Christian, a devoted parishioner, a beloved friend, a close confidant, a philanthropist, a champion, an Icon, a committed medical doctor of over 40 years of experience and an exemplary religious statesman who built an enviable family and so trained his children so well that his family remains a shining microcosm of what Nigerian could be, if things are right. His trust in the divine providence made him content, and he never asked for more, they said.
In an appreciation message, His first son Dr. Dozie Akunyili thanked the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese who officiated at the mass and his Awgu Diocese counterpart who despite his bereavement, made out time to be with the family
According to Dr. Dozie, “Your attendance here today shows your believe in my father and what he stood for. My father had a special love for Priests and seminarians whom he treated without a cost for over 40years.” Furthermore, he said his father has left a legacy for them and they would always uphold that.
The remains of Late Dr. Chike will be buried on Thursday the 25th of November 2021.
May God rest his soul